In the end of an 8-5 loss in the opening round of the Class 3A state softball tournament, it was a lot of little things that let Columbus Catholic win the game.
“Early on we were really anxious at the plate,” said Coach Jani Dorpinghaus. “We were swinging at first pitches and not being patient.”
Coach Darren Hill concurred. “We were pressing and we didn’t stay focused,” he added.
Albia didn’t collapse defensively. But they didn’t play their best either. Columbus scored a run in the first inning without hitting the ball out of the infield. They scored two more in the third when a pitch veered into the middle of the plate and was deposited over the fence. Two more crossed when a wild pitch allowed base runners to reach second and third. Mishandling bunts late in the game allowed for a three-run inning.
In the end, however, Columbus batters hit both Albia pitchers. “They hit our pitchers better than any team we’ve faced,” said Coach Hill.
Taylor Hogan, a diminutive shortstop carrying an incredible .611 batting average was Albia’s worst nightmare on the night. She reached base and scored her first three times to the plate with two singles and a double. Only a bunt attempt that went foul on a third strike kept her off the bases late in the game.
Hogan legged out an infield hit to lead off the game, stole second, moved to third on a single by Alivia Schultz and scored on a fielder’s choice hit to shortstop.
Jena Lawrence controlled the second with a strikeout and two groundouts.
Meanwhile, Albia was champing at the bit to get on base. The first three batters grounded to third base. Lawrence lofted a deep fly to left field to start the second, then MacKenna Jones grounded to third and Abbey Griffin popped up to the pitcher.
Lawrence retired the leadoff batter in the third on a fly to Makenna Ross, but Hogan singled, stole second and with two out, had Sydney Schultz with a no balls, two strike count. Her next pitch entered the strike zone and Schultz, who led Columbus with seven home runs on the year, parked her eighth over the left centerfield fence to give the Waterloo team a 3-0 lead.
The bottom of Albia’s order came up in the third and started waiting on pitches. Rylee Leshen walked and Ellie Spurgin singled. Kennedy Schroeder singled to load the bases and Taylee Wolfer came on to run for Leshen at third. Ross lofted a fly to right field to drive in Albia’s first run, but Beard grounded to the pitcher for the third out, leaving two on base.
Lawrence regained control of the game in the fourth, giving up a single, but striking out three. Lawrence led off the fourth with a sharp single up the middle, but Taylor Colwell, running for Lawrence, was forced at second on a grounder by Jones. Danica Workman came on to run for Jones and was picked off attempting to steal, effectively ending that Albia rally.
It looked bad in the fifth when Hogan doubled with one out. Lawrence was lifted for Jones on the mound, but two runs scored on that double, a wild pitch and two singles. A strikeout by Jones ended the threat with Columbus up 5-1.
There was no hang dog by the Lady Dees. With one out, Leshen singled, followed by singles by Spurgin and Schroeder to load the bases. Ross lofted a deep fly ball to right and runners did not advance bringing Alex Beard to the plate with two out.
In typical Bean style, the junior catcher waited on a couple of pitches, then crushed a line drive that was still rising as it crested the centerfield fence. The grand slam tied the game at 5-5.
Columbus had their #6 hitter leadoff in the sixth and Jalila Hart singled. Malijah Little earned a bunt single and Beard threw to Abbey Griffin at first on a bunt to get the first out. But Jones gave up a two-run double to the #9 hitter to put Columbus up 7-5. Jones managed to retire Hogan, then an Albia infield error allowed a third run to score in the inning.
The Dees continued to create chances to score. Jones doubled to lead off the inning and Colwell came in to run for her. With two out, Leshen had her second hit of the day, a single into left field and Colwell tried to score from second, but was thrown out at the plate.
Columbus went down in order in the seventh and Ross singled in the seventh, but Beard’s deep fly to right field ended the game.
Schroeder, Leshen and Spurgin led the team’s 10 hit attack with two hits each. Albia pitching gave up eight runs on 11 hits and a single walk. Lawrence struck out five and Jones struck out two.
The Dees lost to Algona, a 3-2 loser to top-ranked Davenport Assumption on Tuesday afternoon. Columbus advanced to the semi-final round against Assumption Wednesday. Full game results in Thursday's U-R.